It's fantasy playoff time in almost all leagues. It's where all the planning and time you put into the season becomes the true "any given Sunday" ethos of the NFL. Upsets happen all the time and more than any other time, you have to really understand the injuries and playing time issues. You simply can't take the zero or even a lower than expected output if you can at all help it.
A point here or there is the difference between playing next week and another year of coming so close, while thinking about next year. It's a time of year where anything is possible -- heck, I'm a member of the BBWAA, proving the case -- but as always, luck is the residue of design. To modernize that, luck is the residue of information. If you get the best information and use it to inform your decisions, you'll come out ahead much more often than not. Sure, sometimes you run into something like Antonio Bryant, but that's the game.
One other quick request -- if you've been reading this column and used it to win the league, send me a quick email at email@example.com. I'd love to hear about it ... and yes, you can send one to blame me, too. Let's get to the injuries:
Brandon Jacobs RB NYG: The NFC East is wrapped up, so the Giants are taking the next couple weeks to get Jacobs ready. The knee isn't significantly worse this week, but the troubling part is that it's not significantly better. He's definitely out this week and maybe next as well.
Jeff Garcia QB TB: After much debate, Garcia is the emergency quarterback for the Bucs.
Frank Gore RB SF: Late word is that Gore is definitely out and that the Niners are even wondering if he'll be back next week. This is a bit surprising considering how close he seemed to playing this week.
Joseph Addai RB IND: Addai stuffed his shoulder, getting a big stinger. He can play, but no one's quite sure how much. He'll share carries with Dominic Rhodes, who will start, at best and under Tony Dungy, players that miss the last full practice usually don't play.
Matt Hasselbeck QB SEA: There's no reason to risk Hasselbeck taking more damage. Like Oscar De La Hoya last week, there's a time to realize it's over and just stay on the stool.
Fred Taylor RB JAX: Yeah, thanks for the emails reminding me after Thursday's Injury Report column went live that the Jags had already placed Taylor on the IR. The move was made while, as I said, I was at the Winter Meetings and I missed the move. He's still done for the year and maybe as a Jag.
Matt Jones WR JAX: Jones' isn't an injury, but a suspension. I mention it here because he's been dealing with a back injury and the one game suspension might help him be 100% for fantasy championship week.
Ray Rice RB BAL:John Harbaugh isn't Mike Shanahan, but figuring out who'll do what in the Ravens backfield has been one of the tougher fantasy questions this year. Rice's calf strain is likely to make him the third option this week and is facing a bad matchup anyway.
Trent Edwards QB BUF: Doubtful, in this case, means the groin's still hurting him and that J.P. Losman will be out there. Edwards could be done for the season, though there was some improvement late in the week.
Gus Frerotte QB MIN: Some are saying that Frerotte could be back for the playoffs, despite a fractured vertebrae. They're right -- it's not as bad an injury as it sounds and once the fracture is stable, it can be protected. Viking fans have to hope it stabilizes quickly or their team won't.
Kellen Winslow TE CLE: The soldier is on leave until 2009. We'll have to see how this latest injury affects where he plays next year.
Marion Barber RB DAL: Not only is there some question about whether Barber will play with the toe injury, there's even more questions about how the team will apportion the carries between he and Tashard Choice. I'm not sure either is a good play in the always dramatic Dallas offense.
Mark Bradley WR KC: A Chiefs WR2 as a fantasy option? Surprisingly, yes. The Chiefs have been a good fantasy team and a bad real team. Bradley is hobbled a bit by a calf strain and will test it before the game. If he plays, he has a good matchup.
LenDale White RB TEN: White's knee doesn't seem enough to keep him out, but you really can't tell with the Titans. White's been a healthy scratch, so they can play without him, especially with the division title and home field locked up.
Matt Forte RB CHI: Yes, he's already played this week, but he came out with a toe injury. It's not turf toe, which is a good thing, but in the end, a bigger injury might have helped. At 280 carries, he'll stay shy of the dreaded 370, but it's a lot for a rookie. (FYI: Michael Turner is the only back on pace to hit the dreaded 370.)
Reggie Bush RB NO: Bush re-strained his knee during Thursday's game. They'll wait to see how he responds with the extra couple days rest, but I expect Bush to be shut down. Plan accordingly.
Brian Griese QB TB: The surprise is Griese is healthy enough to get the start with Garcia out. Luke McCown is available and it wouldn't surprise me a bit if he saw some action. Look for the Bucs to run more, making Warrick Dunn and Cadillac Williams decent plays this week.
Harry Douglas WR ATL: He's back from a "head injury" (read: concussion) and practiced. He'll probably lose some targets, but he's emerged as a nice third option for Matt Ryan and your fantasy team.
Domenik Hixon WR NYG: It's not the drop, it's the ankle. Hixon's injury doesn't look like enough to keep him out, but the Giants showed they can be beat and that Eli Manning might be the second biggest loser in the Plaxico Burress saga.
Brian Westbrook RB PHI: The Eagles have to keep running Westbrook out there, hopeful that he can continue to push them towards the playoffs. As usual, he's not 100 percent, but he's still pretty good even limited. They'll try to find him rest when possible.
Kevin Smith RB DET: The ankle won't keep him out and with no real QB options, he may find himself used about as much as he was last year.
Calvin Johnson WR DET: He's good. He'll play though the hand injury is a bit worrisome. Whoever's throwing the ball will be looking for him.
Kevin Curtis WR PHI: Like Westbrook, the Eagles have to push and Curtis seems ready to return from his concussion.
Matt Cassel QB NE: He isn't Tom Brady, but we've learned that Matt Cassel is a solid NFL QB over the course of the 2009 season. Today, we'll learn if he's Brett Favre. He'll play today with a heavy heart after his father's death.